And the top 3 WHO director-general candidates are ...

By Jenny Lei Ravelo 25 January 2017

The competition for the leadership of the World Health Organization is now down to three. Photos from: U.N. and the World Economic Forum

After a full day of closed-door sessions, the World Health Organization’s Executive Board at last announced its three director-general nominees set to face election in May. Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar, and Britain’s David Nabarro made the cut, with the results released in Geneva on Wednesday evening.  

Tedros again took the lead with 30 votes, but Nishtar was close behind with a total of 28. Nabarro received 18 votes from the 34-member board.

Read our extended Q&As with the top 3 WHO director-general candidates:

Q&A: WHO candidate Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Q&A: WHO candidate Sania Nishtar

Q&A: WHO candidate David Nabarro

The results came as something of a surprise within global health circles, who favored French candidate Philippe Douste-Blazy, along with Nabarro and Tedros. When the list was whittled down to five candidates on Tuesday, Italy’s Flavia Bustreo had come in second. The loss of both Europeans has led observers to predict that Nabarro’s campaign may see a boost in the coming months.

“Today's election reflected the real choices of the EB Members. European votes were divided between the three European candidates,” said Mathias Bonk, a global health consultant who shared his predictions ahead of Wednesday’s results. “Nabarro will be much stronger in May.”

Just who will become the next director-general of WHO, however, will likely become harder to predict, as the final vote will no longer be just in the hands of the few members of the executive board. The full 194 WHO member countries will participate in the May election.

Read Devex’s exclusive look at the stakes behind the vote, and stay tuned to Devex for more coverage and analysis on the election of the next WHO director-general in May 2017.

About the author

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Jenny Lei Ravelo@JennyLeiRavelo

Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.

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